While the time it takes for a retaining wall to get built will vary due to who you hire to build your wall, what your wall looks like (some walls require two or even three tiers), what type of block you want your wall to be made out of, and whether permits and engineering need to be done, most walls will be built within a couple of weeks to a month.
So, where do you start when it comes to having a retaining wall built?
The first step in your retaining wall build journey is going to be figuring out if you need/want your wall to be done now, and if you have the budget to do so.
Why would a retaining wall NEED to be built?
Unfortunately, for some retaining wall projects it is not an option to wait to have your wall built. If you have a wall on your property that is failing, you risk the wall falling over and causing major damage to your property, and even your home, depending on where the wall is located. You also risk someone physically getting hurt if the wall comes down.
In a case where the retaining wall is at a high risk of failure, the wall should be dealt with ASAP.
Sometimes though, people are just sick of looking at their old walls and want to be able to refresh their outdoor space and have a new focal point for their backyard.
Once you have figured out that you want/ need to get the retaining wall done, it is time to think about your budget.
Your budget is going to determine how your wall is made, and if you get any extra add ons with your wall.
Things to consider when it comes to your budget are:
- How long am I going to be living here
- Is my wall going to be a focal point to my yard or is at the back of the property where no one can see it
- Am I trying to just make this wall safe, or add a whole new area to my backyard
- What do I want my wall to look like?
How long am I going to be living here
If you plan on selling your home soon, maybe you are okay with just getting a wall built without the bells and whistles.
Is my wall going to be a focal point to my yard, or is at the back of the property where no one can see it
If your wall is something you see every day you may want to consider going with a nicer looking block, or adding a seating area to enjoy. If your wall is at the back of your property and you cannot see it, a plain looking wall could be what you are after.
Am I trying to just make this wall safe, or add a whole new area to my backyard
Are you fixing this wall because it is a safety hazard or are you wanting to really up the curb appeal with your wall?
What do I want my wall to look like?
Do you want lights, seating area, plants, or a sidewalk leading up to the wall, or do you want just a simple looking wall?
Once those questions are answered you need to do your due diligence and figure out if you can get a new retaining wall built financially.
One thing we see frequently is customers hiring a “cheap” company to complete their walls because they cannot afford to have their wall built but they know it needs to be done. The issue with this is that if you get a wall built for cheap the contractor has to cheat the build.
This may be by not adding enough material needed for the wall to be structurally sound, not ensuring the wall is level etc.
When this happens, the retaining wall fails and has to get redone anyway!
Ensuring that you are able to afford a retaining wall build will end up saving you money in the long run. This may mean that you have to wait a couple of months to save up for the build, or if the build is time sensitive, find another option to keep the wall safe until you can hire someone to build it properly.
Luckily, there are ways that contractors can work around your budget. Things like having you do a little bit of the prep work such as taking down your old wall, or remediating the site by seeding it yourself after the retaining wall project is done, can lower the cost of your project without losing the integrity of the build.
Learn all you can about retaining walls
As consumers, it is up to us to learn about what our project is going to entail.
Being aware of things like how retaining walls are built, problems that can happen with them, and the best type of materials to use , will help you understand your build, and prepare you when the time comes to get your wall done.
As well, educating yourself on your project will allow you to be better informed when it comes to hiring a company which is the next step in your retaining wall timeline.
Knowing all aspects of a retaining wall build will give you the power to make proper buying decisions and ask the right questions when figuring out how you want your project to go, what you are wanting to spend on it, and how the outcome is going to look.
Vetting the company you are hiring
Now that you have a budget for your retaining wall build in mind, it is time to see who you want to hire to do your build.
Many people will just start calling companies, panicking to get on anyone’s schedule.
Who you hire is the most important part of any construction or landscaping project. Take a step back and vet companies before trying to hire someone.
How do I vet a company?
- Check their social media/website
- Google reviews
- Have a conversation with them
Check their social media/website
Learn about the company you are going to hire. Who are they? What do their projects look like? What type of certifications do they have?
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow us to see what a company is like before even talking to them.
The best way to see what it is like to work with a company is to see what people who have worked with them before have to say.
Google reviews tell you everything you need to know about a company, and if there are red flags other customers will warn you to stay away from that company.
Have a conversation with them
If you like what you are seeing on a company’s social media, call them and see what the interaction is like. Look for things like:
- Did the company answer their phone right away?
- Do they appear to be professional?
- Where they able to answer my questions?
- Do they seem like someone I would want to hire?
Dream about your retaining wall
Once you know who you want to work with you can start dreaming about what your retaining wall is going to look like.
When thinking about what your retaining wall is going to look like keep in mind that:
- There are lots of different materials retaining walls can be made out of
- Retaining wall blocks come in many colors, styles and shapes
- Some blocks will be readily available, while some will be special order
Your budget is going to come in play when you decide what you want your wall to look like. Some material will be more expensive than others; even the color that you choose is going to change the price of the block.
This is another prime example of why your contractor needs to know your budget. They can give you an idea of what block and color will work for your budget.
Additional add ons to your retaining wall like stairs, lighting and plants are going to be things that will elevate you wall and the projects price tag.
When thinking about what you want your wall to look like, be realistic in what you want and what you can afford.
Figure out the timeline for the build
Are you wanting to get this retaining wall build done before summer so you can enjoy your yard without is resembling a construction zone or are you flexible? Is the wall so damaged that the upcoming winter will undoubtedly Knock it over? Do you need to start the process of the build now due to having to wait for engineering and permits for your wall?
Ask yourself these questions so that you are ahead of schedule, and not having to wait months before the company you hire can get to the build.
Once you have figured out what your budget is, what you want you wall to look like, your expectations for the project, and who is doing the build, you can start the process of working with your contractor.
Most contractors will perform a site visit to ensure that everything with the plan is accurate and makes sense, have you sign the contract and pay a deposit for the job, and then add you to their list.
For a large retaining wall project, you can expect the build to take 4-6 weeks and for a smaller build 2-3 weeks depending on weather and access to your retaining wall.
After that, you can sit back and enjoy your new wall!